What To Do When Your Students Have No Writing Stamina


One of the most frustrating things is when students write a little bit and then stop and say, “I’m done,” when they’ve only written for two minutes. So, I’m going to share how to help your students write for longer using a simple writing stamina lesson, which you can download for free.
⭐️ You can download the activities for free here.

It’s a complete writing stamina lesson that only takes a few days but makes a huge difference in student writing, especially at the beginning of the school year. It helps them write longer and write more. It is, by far, my most popular supplemental resource for writing instruction. Therefore, I can tell you this is a problem many teachers have. So, don’t worry, it’s not just you. This will definitely help your reluctant writers!

1. Teach about writing stamina

A lot of times, students don’t know why they need to keep writing for an extended period of time. They may wonder how long they need to write, which is why you hear questions like “How many minutes do I need to write for?” and “When can I be done writing?”

That’s frustrating because students don’t know why they’re supposed to write and when to stop or keep going. This lesson allows me to talk to them about what writing stamina is and provide them with some tips to use if they get stuck, including:

  • Reread the prompt
  • Reread their writing
  • Circle a part to elaborate on
  • Ask a question about their writing, then answer the question in their writing
  • Stay focused on their ideas and don’t stop to correct spelling or punctuation

These notes are super helpful as we get into our writing pieces because I can refer students back to this list. So, for example, if they write for 30 seconds and finish, I can have them go back to their writing stamina notes to do one of these things.

2. Teach and graph writing stamina

The next thing I have students do is a graphing activity. It takes me a day to get this set up and practice it once. Then, I like to do writing prompts for at least five days so students can practice writing for longer and longer. I project a count-up timer so students can see where they are visually and keep track of the time.

If they get stuck, they can refer back to their writing stamina note page to build on their time. This activity allows them to compete with themselves to see how much they grow in their stamina.

If you don’t have much time for this practice, you can spend one or two days on it and then have students use the graph during their writing time. It’s a really helpful tool to bring out any time of year if you notice students getting a little sluggish or finishing writing early.

3. Visual prompts

Visual prompts are a great way to get students to write. I use this activity along with the stamina graphs. These visual prompts are also fantastic to use with English language learners. You can read the prompt and have them look at the picture.

Visual prompts are also a great way to get students excited about journaling. I believe journaling is the easiest way to get students to practice writing stamina. It is so open-ended, and they don’t have to worry about following a particular structure. It’s a very low-stress activity.

So, the visual prompts, stamina graph, and the fun count-up timer (which you can find easily) make it so most students will try to write for longer. They’ll enjoy the journaling and like competing with themselves.

You can download these three activities for free here. So download them, use them with your students, and then come back and let me know how it goes. I guarantee your students will love it, and it will help so much.


April Smith

Curriculum Writer and Online Professional Development Coach. 


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